Zone Out

Zone OutKindergarten teacher, Chinatsu is always in a state of stress. And it is at this moment that a pupil of her class is murdered. Totally distraught, Chinatsu begins to sink into a world of illusion that she can not control. (FFM)

I don’t know what they have put in the water of that city but all the characters in this movie offer a whole catalog of mental illness: Chinatsu, a kindergarten teacher, cracks under the pressure brought by all those helicopter parents and develops schizophrenia; her acupuncture doctor, Yuichi, suffers from Capgras syndrome; Naoto, a salesman bullied by his seniors, has nomophobia; Akamatsu, the convenience store clerk, suffers from Asperger; Mitsuki, Haruka’s mother, suffer from Munchausen syndrome, etc. I guess it was the purpose of the director to show with this docudrama-style movie what it is to have such illness and how difficult it can be for the families.

It is a very dark movie and the end result is, unfortunately, barely average. The storytelling is awkward and not particularly skillful, the photography feels amateurish and the acting is so-so — although, the main actress is very charming and switching the actors who plays the two Yuichi toward the end of the movie in order to unexpectedly show the schizophrenia of Chinatsu is, I must say, quite brilliant. Also, the movie is really not well served by the poor translation (in the subtitles). When I noticed two typos in the very first sentence of the movie, I knew that this would spell trouble! (unless they made it on purpose to make us feel crazy!) If it was not already obvious with the production quality, the horrible translation really smelled of tiny budget…

Finally, to really give a last pathetic impression, the absence of a translator for the Q&A at the end of the presentation (due to the minimalistic ressources of the festival this year — what? they couldn’t even find a volunteer to take up the task?) left the poor director and main actress at the mercy of their basic English language skills and made for such a laughable exchange that you could only feel sorry for them. 

However, undertaking such a difficult and serious subject requires some strength. I understand what the director was trying to achieve and I greatly appreciate his efforts (for that I give him extra points!). In a society that was repressed for so long, where you find a real epidemic of bullying (both at school and at the work place, including sexual harassment) and where an aging population is plagued by various forms of dementia, it is really not surprising to find that mental illness has become a great challenge in Japan today. Kudos to the director for trying to bring attention to this problem.

Zone Out / Regarder dans le vide (アウトゾーン / Out Zone): Japan, 2017, 115 mins; Dir.: Hiroshi Kanno; Scr.: Mari Takanashi; Phot.: Makoto Hayashi; Ed.: Aya Mitsuaka; Light.: Sousuke Yoshikado; Sound: Kazuyuki Tutiya; Mus.: Magumi Masui; Cast: Minami Matsunaka (Chinatsu), Masato Oki (Yuichi Akino), Kyoko Toyama (Kyoko), Gen Kuwayama (Naoto), Yusuke Ueda (Akamatsu), Yusuke Sugiyama (Yuichi Kagawa), Ben Hori (Hisashi Aoyama).

Screened at the Cinema Imperial (Sat. 8/25 at 16:30) as part of the “World Great” program (out of competition) of the 42nd Montreal World Film Festival. stars-2-0

[ IMDb ]

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FFM 2018 Day 1

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Red carpet and Opening ceremony

This year the Festival des Films du Monde (FFM or MWFF, Montreal World Film Festival) strangely seems slightly more organized (at least for the accreditation) than the previous couples of years. They are probably getting used to extreme austerity and benefits from plenty of movie aficionado volunteers. Also, there’s more Japanese movies than last year (but still less than the usual dozen). Unfortunately, since there are only four screens (Cinéma Impérial and Quartier Latin 10, 12 & 13) to show ALL movies, they are shown only once (twice for the titles in competition) and mostly in the afternoon — which is not compatible with my own schedule, so I’ll probably end up viewing only half of the Japanese movies. Too bad, but that’s better than nothing!

However, I was happy that the title selected as opening film was one of the Japanese movies: Samurai’s Promise. No one from the cast or crew was present for the opening ceremony, although there was plenty of actors & actresses from other Japanese and Chinese movies (as well as local dignitaries) parading on the red carpet.

Red carpet photo gallery

 

The only speech was given by the president of the festival, Serge Losique. He seemed tired, but still defiant (although slightly apologetic):

“The festival is a great cathedral open to all. Our role was not to imitate whoever but to be ourselves, to be authentic. (…) Our role was also to helped small unknown countries, like Cape Verde or Sri Lanka [to promote their films]. All we want is for the public, and the journalists, to appreciate the films.”

He continues saying he doesn’t want the glamour of the other festivals but only to showcase the diversity of the world cinema. That’s why it is the “Festival des Films du Monde” [also a word-play in French meaning the festival of the people]. People are asking for stars, he says, but the stars here are the films. He also argues that the directors and actors who come to Montreal are stars in their own countries, and many more have been discovered here, at the festival, and are now stars! [I might add that I’ve seen plenty of great stars at the FFM over the years: Catherine Deneuve, Sofia Loren, Jackie Chan, Robert de Niro, Tony Curtis, Mamoru Oshii, etc.]

He also announces the new policy for the festival to chose as president of the jury a director that has previously won the Grand Prix of the Americas. Also the jury members will not necessarily be present at the festival but will screen the titles in competition via video link (although the president of the jury will always be present in Montreal). He introduces the members of this year’s jury (critic Élie Castiel, Pierre-Henri Deleau, an executive from China Film Group Corporation and another jury whose name will be revealed at the end of the festival) as well as its president, Silvio Caiozzi [Chilean director, winner of last year’s Grand Prix des Amériques], who also said a few words:

“From the beginning this festival always chose nothing but films of cinematographic excellence. Nowadays, I can feel that around the world somehow (…) [in the movie industry] the true quality of films is not looked upon, really. What they look upon is (…) what film has the big budget (…) or the politics (…) but not really the quality of the films. So, really, honestly, (…) in my opinion this is perhaps the only festival that still remains absolutely independant.”

Opening ceremony video

(I understand what Serge Losique is saying here. He is trying to explain and justify his position. The festival is his life-work, his baby, and he doesn’t want to relinquish its control. Indeed, if you accept public money you have to show transparency and do things the way the government wants them to be done… Unfortunately, if he doesn’t step down, pass the mantle to someone else soon (while maybe remaining on board as advisor), the festival will die with him…)

The theatre was not full, like we’ve seen for previous years, but considering the situation, it was full enough (maybe half?). Surprisingly, there was not that many people from the local Japanese community.

It was a short ceremony, a good movie (see my separate comment), the weather was nice, Radio-Canada / CBC was there to report on the event so, all in all, it was a good day for the festival.

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Italian week 2018

SettimanaItalianaDiMontrealLike last year, we have visited the Settimana Italiana di Montreal (the Italian Week), festival held all over Montreal (but mostly in Little Italy, on St-Laurent street between St-Zotique and Jean-Talon streets) from August 3rd to 12th.

This year the festival celebrated its 25th Anniversary with many activities: an exhibition of all its promotional posters, a Fiat 500 car exposition, guided tours, a film festival, an opera presentation of Puccini’s “La Bohème”, a parade of the Sbandieratori Borghi e Sestieri Fiorentini (a group of Italian flag-throwers keeping alive the old military flag-waving tradition), and lots of food, musical displays and entertainments. Each local Italian association has a booth to inform about their activities. It was very interesting.

Here is a photo album and a short video (15 mins) as a memento of this year’s festival:

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Happy Holidays to all !

Version 2

Joyeuses Fêtes à tous !

Je tiens à souhaiter à tous mes collègues et ami(e)s, chers lecteurs et lectrices, un excellent solstice (en retard), une bonne Nativité (ou Noël, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Festivus, Saturnalibus — peut importe ce que vous fêtez) et surtout une heureuse, paisible, saine et agréable nouvelle année.

I want to wish all my colleagues and friends, my dear readers, an excellent solstice (a little late), a good Nativity (or Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Festivus, Saturnalibus — whatever you celebrate) and especially a happy, peaceful, healthy and pleasant new year.

عطلات سعيدة للجميع
祝大家節日快樂
Feliĉaj Ferioj al ĉiuj
Frohe Feiertage für alle
Ευχάριστες διακοπές σε όλους
Happy Holidays nan tout
חג שמח לכולם
सभी के लिए खुश छुट्टियाँ
Buone Feste a tutti
すべてにハッピーホリデー
Beatus festis in omnes
Счастливые праздники для всех
Felices fiestas a todos
Chúc mừng ngày lễ cho tất cả

Portes Ouvertes à VSP

PortesOuvertesVSP

Cet après-midi je suis allé faire un tour aux Portes Ouvertes de la mairie d’arrondissement.

Je suis citoyen co-propriétaire d’un duplex dans l’arrondissement depuis presque sept ans (avril 2011) et je commence tout juste à m’intéresser à la politique municipale. Comme je travaille tout les mardis soir, je n’ai jamais assisté à une séance du conseil alors c’était l’occasion idéale de rencontrer la nouvelle mairesse de l’arrondissement, Mme Giuliana Fumagalli (au centre), et ses collègues du conseil d’arrondissement (de g. à d.): Franz Benjamin (District de Saint-Michel), Sylvain Ouellet (François-Perrault), Rosannie Filato (Villeray) et Mary Deros (Parc-Extension). Je ne suis pas sûr d’avoir vue Mme Filato mais, bien sûr,  mon conseiller de district, M. Benjamin — que je n’ai jamais réussi à rencontrer durant toutes ces années — était absent.

Conseil_d_arrondissement_VSP

 

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Weekly notable news (w17-19)

Another few weeks have passed quickly without anything significant happening: More crazy weeks at works and rainy week-ends where I don’t feel I accomplished anything. I am tired and really need a longer vacation. Next week I’ll start a ten-day holiday where I’ll be able to rest (sleep late!), catch up on stuff (writing, work around the house), travel around (Ottawa’s Tulip’s festival, Quebec City, botanical garden, museums, the libraries book sale, bury my mother’s ashes, etc.) and, above all, completely forget about work for a while. Or so I thought!

In hope for greener pastures, I have applied for a new library job (more responsibilities, further from home, but a greater challenge for my skills and a much better salary). However, after a lengthy processus, they scheduled an interview right in the middle of my vacation and at nine o’clock on the morning of my BIRTHDAY! Not only they made me filled a psychological test online (it’s called “an inventory of personality” and it will probably reveal that I am a total psycho) but they didn’t even bother to reply when I asked if it was possible to reschedule, so I’ll do my best to be there and we’ll see. Que sera, sera.

The weather has really been lousy lately. May is supposed to be the nicest month of all (and not only because it’s my birthday). Overall, it has been cold and rainy. It even snowed a little last week. In may! Hopefully, it will not portend that the summer will be likewise, and it will soon improve (at least for my vacations, please!).

Something strange happened at the beginning of the month: out of the blue, one late afternoon, I started to smell a vague odour of gazoline in the basement. It didn’t come from the obvious source, the garage. Usually, such smell comes from the sewage (through a dried P-trap) or from a dead animal but, in this case, it seemed to come from the pit of the water-pipe entry. I called the city and was told not to worry, it was “probably” not toxic and might have come from some work on the pipes in the neighbourhood (I couldn’t locate any nearby). I cracked open a window and the next morning it was gone. I never knew what it was.

The unlucky streak didn’t stop there. Not only I broke a piece of tooth while eating a granola bar during my lunch break at work (and I am still waiting for the dentist to find some spare time for an appointment), but I also discovered that the damage to the rear balcony of the house is more extensive than I first thought. The supporting posts are not planted deep enough (they rest on concrete supports that are just on the surface while they should be in soil deep enough so it never freezes in winter — who are the morons who built this house?!) so the ground expansion due to the freezing is slowly ripping the balcony off the house. So much that it has now become worrisome. We will have to do the repairs sooner than expected and it will probably be quite costly! What an exciting boring life!

Again, I must remind myself not to let the outside world rattle my core. Carpe diem, my boy, carpe diem!

Finally, I managed to stay acquainted with some of the affairs of the world and gathered notable news & links of interest — which I share with you (in both french or english, and organized into a few basic categories), after the jump.

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